New Startup Takes the Guesswork Out of Fashion

If you're in the wrong mood, shopping for clothes can be the worst thing in the world. The dressing room lighting! The security tags that are inexplicably pinned right to the zipper! The teenagers drinking from flasks in the next stall! Thankfully, a new startup, Le Tote, wants to take all the agony and indecision of shopping out of your life.

How it works: You fill out a style profile, giving Le Tote your size, your taste in jewelry and so on. The stylists at Le Tote pick three clothing items and two accessories and mail them to you in a (presumably) lovely little tote. You can keep the clothes as long as you want, wear them as often as you want, and when you're finally done with them, you ship them back in the bag they provide — and a new tote of treasures arrives. If you fall in love with something, you can buy it. The whole service is available for a mere $49 per month, less than a gym membership or a Comcast bill.

The clothing is all moderately-priced (you're more likely to receive a Charlotte Russe sundress than a Chanel jacket) and you can select items from their site to be added to your next tote. Once you send clothes back, the start-up will clean and press them and send them on to the next girl, although you could be charged for any damages.

Let's be honest, the idea is brilliant. And investors think so, too; Le Tote is backed by Google Ventures, among others. The start-up launched in private beta nine months ago, and they've racked up 1,000 subscribers and an incredible 18,000 people on the wait list.

Is this a ground-breaking leap forward for fashionable women everywhere, saving us hours formerly spent despairing H&M that we can now dedicate to running the world, bearing the children, and getting back to business? Probably. But at the same time, the idea behind Le Tote is a bit anti-fashion, in its own subtle way. One of the core premises behind style is individuality and self-expression. The talented stylists at Le Tote can certainly predict which cut of sundress you'll like best, but can they replicate the way you pair your destroyed Chucks with your pencil skirt? Scouring thrift store racks, trying on millions of jeans at Macy's, and discarding ill-fitting cocktail dresses is just part of the fashion game, and it's not all bad — after all, it teaches us to know our own bodies and styles. Now, if you already know thyself, sign up for Le Tote right away, because it sounds kind of luxurious. Just don't forget to put your personal twist on everything they send you.

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